Statement by County Prosecutor, Jeffrey H. Sutherland

May 20, 2020

Press Release – Statement by County Prosecutor, Jeffrey H. Sutherland

Every Memorial Day Weekend, Cape May County is prepared to see a large influx of people coming to kick-off the summer season and enjoy the many attractions in our area. It is an important time for our business community to expand or begin operations and prepare for the summer season. With many of the COVID-19 restrictions continuing, it is a confusing time for business owners and patrons, especially if the business is opening for the season and has not already dealt with the restrictions. If you are one of these business owners the guidance is provided thru The Governor’s Executive Order 107 and as modified by Executive Order 142. Executive Order 107 allows ‘essential businesses’ to open, allowing patrons to enter the business premises with certain guidelines. Executive Order 142 allows non-essential businesses to open with “curbside pickup” of pre-ordered items. Business owners most likely have familiarized themselves with these restrictions on opening and operating. It is not an easy task to comply and given the limited season most businesses have to earn enough money to succeed – the timing could not be worse. As County Prosecutor, I can assure you that all of our law enforcement executives and officers in the community understand the burden this has on retail businesses both operationally and as a result of lost income. Many of us have family members who own or work for businesses that are directly impacted.

The Executive Orders are laws that we, as law enforcement officers are sworn to uphold and enforce. I understand that people have differing opinions regarding these restrictions and Orders and as Americans we have Constitutional rights to express our opinions; but law enforcement officers must enforcement them- even if they personally do not agree with them. We, as law enforcement professionals cannot second guess whether a law is fair or constitutionally valid, whether they are created by our legislature or by the Governor through his statutory and state constitutional executive powers. Our judicial system is there to sort out and resolve any of these disputes. Law enforcement officers have been on the street everyday during this pandemic putting themselves and their families at risk to contract the coronavirus. Some officers in our county have in fact suffered thru the virus. Police officers cannot properly do their jobs without having some direct contact with the public.

So this Memorial Day Weekend lets all honor the sacrifice of our brave fighting men and women as best we can, even if we cannot gather to do so as we would like to. And let’s honor their sacrifice by our actions in respecting the rule of law as we all try the best we can to enjoy this opening weekend of summer. Support our local businesses, even if it takes extra effort. And if our police have to take certain actions to enforce the COVID-19 related Executive Orders, please understand that they are doing so to uphold their sworn duty and to help keep us all safe. Let’s all treat each other with respect and understand that our frustrations and suffering with this virus are real and they affect everyone – whether by health, economics or both. We as individuals may not be able to control the virus or the negative circumstances it places on us, but we can control our actions and recognize that we are all in this together.